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Eleanor, St Helen and St Katharine

Things A Bright Girl Can Do

Things a Bright Girl Can Do is a fabulous read, particularly because the three intertwined storylines are extremely contrasting; the points of view of a startlingly different trio. May, a pacifist Quaker whose mother unites suffragists across the world, is a heart-warming Sapphist who stands up for her beliefs. Nell, a brave suffragette who strongly believes in her rights, is also a Sapphist, and she is intently strong-willed. The two girls meet at a Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) meeting, and we see their now entangled stories unfold in many various ways; both expected and unexpected. May is very open about her Sapphism, whereas Nell never even considered the possibility that there were others like her. They try very hard to stick together through constant arguments over May’s religion and Nell’s headstrong personality, but no matter how hard they try, no matter what they tell themselves, they are indisputably falling apart. The two girls stay together through many trials, but they finally snap when Nell’s younger brother is ill, and Nell’s family don’t have the money for his expensive medicine. Nell must find a job to support her siblings. When she eventually finds work, she is forced to accept so that she can save her family, even though it will mean moving very far away. Nell and May will be separated for a long period of time. How will May take it? Will they keep their standing relationship, or will they dash it to pieces on metaphorical rocks?
The third main suffragette featured in this story is an upper middle-class schoolgirl who is slightly unsure of what she truly wants for herself. However, Votes for Women catches Evelyn’s eye and wins out over life as a subdued housewife. She campaigns with her fellow Hampstead Suffragettes and even goes on hunger and thirst strike in prison. Then war breaks out. For many people, the suffragettes are put on hold as they look uncertainly into the future. Evelyn’s fiancé, Teddy (Edward) enlists to fight at the Front along with many of his artist friends. On a more positive note, Evelyn is finally allowed to pursue her dreams and study Classics at Oxford. She writes to Teddy, telling him about her new life as a student and the profound beauty of Oxford. In return, she receives likenesses of soldiers smoking in the trenches. The biggest shock for Evelyn, however, comes with the devastating news that her beloved Teddy has been injured. She lives in terror until the next letter comes. Will things turn out for the best, with the two of them happily married? Or will Evelyn fall into despair at the sight of a much changed or even dead Teddy? This is the man who never gave up on her ever since she was very young. He stayed with her even when she went against everyone’s wishes and marched proudly into prison with the suffragettes, and he sat by her bedside when she suffered a prolonged illness after going without food or water for six days. Will he desert her now? Will she desert him?

Posted on: 29th March 2019 at 08:42 am

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